How Biden Vacation Host Tom Steyer Benefits From President's Climate Bill

Liberal billionaire's green investment fund works to 'take advantage' of federal climate spending

Tom Steyer (Getty Images)
August 26, 2023

Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, who provided his Lake Tahoe mansion for a Biden family vacation this week, manages a green energy investment fund that's working to "take advantage" of federal climate change spending provided through President Joe Biden's so-called Inflation Reduction Act.

Just two months before the Biden family arrived at Steyer's $18 million property, the liberal billionaire's green energy fund touted its work to "take advantage of the financial incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act" through a real estate project that helps developers obtain taxpayer funds. Steyer's firm, Galvanize Climate Solutions, also invests in a slew of green energy companies that stand to benefit from the hundreds of billions of dollars in uncapped tax incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act, a Washington Free Beacon review found.

Steyer's open pursuit to leverage Inflation Reduction Act funding to advance his green portfolio did not stop Biden from taking his family to Steyer's luxurious lakefront property for a week-long vacation. Included on the trip is scandal-plagued first son Hunter Biden, who has used his father's name to profit handsomely in energy-related business dealings. Steyer in 2020 met with eventual White House chief of staff Ron Klain to discuss a potential energy policy role in the Biden administration, and the billionaire launched his green energy investment firm just one year later.

For Michael Chamberlain, director of ethics watchdog group Protect the Public Trust, Steyer's status as Biden's vacation host reflects the president's open embrace of green energy insiders. In one case, Biden heaped praise on an electric bus company that counted his energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, as a top investor. That company, Proterra, declared bankruptcy earlier this month—but only after Granholm sold her stake for a sizable profit

"Large tranches of so-called Green New Deal funds [are] going to former employees and clients of senior appointees," Chamberlain said. "This is certainly not consistent with the most ethical and transparent administration we were promised."

Neither the White House nor Galvanize returned requests for comment. The Biden administration has defended the vacation by arguing that Biden is renting Steyer's home "for fair market value."

Steyer's Galvanize works to deliver financial returns by "catalyzing an acceleration of energy transition and climate aligned behaviors." The market for that energy transition exploded in the United States following Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, which allocates more than $1 trillion for uncapped green energy tax credits. One of Galvanize's partners, Alcemy, works to produce "sustainable cement." Biden's legislation contains $5 billion for green building material programs.

In addition to the extensive federal benefits made available to Galvanize’s green energy portfolio, Steyer’s green energy investment fund also tapped John Podesta as an adviser, paying the former White House chief of staff $84,000 in consulting fees between December 2021 and August 2022. Biden later appointed Podesta to oversee the Inflation Reduction Act's climate investments. Following Podesta’s appointment in September 2022, Galvanize met with Podesta and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to discuss how to best utilize the federal climate funds, the Free Beacon reported in December.

Steyer is also pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission to pass a new rule that would require publicly traded companies to provide certain climate-related information in their financial filings. Steyer's firm could benefit from such a rule, given that Galvanize invests in a company that helps clients report emissions. "The current lack of mandatory disclosures has left U.S. companies at a distinct competitive disadvantage," Steyer wrote in a public comment filed last year to the commission. "It is critically important to conduct appropriate diligence on the transition and physical risks that a company is facing related to the climate crisis."

Biden and his family arrived at Steyer's mansion on August 18 for a week-long stay. The waterfront mansion is considered "one of Lake Tahoe's finest lakefront properties and the pinnacle waterfront estate within the gated Glenbrook community" and features a "spectacular lakeside gazebo [that] rests between the park-like grounds and the calming shores of Glenbrook Bay." Local officials are investigating the rental arrangement, according to the Nevada Globe, as Steyer does not appear to hold a vacation rental permit.